About the Scheme
The Westlink, M2 and M3 motorways, which are key sections of the Strategic Road Network, are presently connected through a complex arrangement of traffic signals at York Street. The current arrangement is illustrated in the Existing Junction Drawing below. This bottleneck presently causes significant congestion and delays for traffic travelling between Westlink and the M2 and M3 motorways at peak times. The junction will come under increased pressure to deal with traffic in the future.
In preparation for this, the Department has developed proposals to provide a grade-separated junction at York Street that would provide direct links between Westlink and the M2 and M3 motorways and greatly improve access between these roads. The layout of the Proposed Scheme is illustrated in the Proposed Scheme - General Arrangement Drawing below.
As part of the statutory procedures process, TransportNI and its consultants AECOM have completed an Environmental Impact Assessment of the scheme, with an associated
Non-Technical Summary of its findings available below.
|PDF Document||File Size|
|Existing Junction Drawing||2.4 MB|
|Proposed Scheme - General Arrangement with aerial photography||3.5 MB|
|Proposed Scheme - General Arrangement drawing with mapping||2.1 MB|
|Environmental Statement Non-Technical Summary||5.5 MB|
History of the Scheme
If you would like to read more about the history of the scheme please click here.
The Existing Junction
The existing York Street junction is illustrated in the animation below:
The Proposed Scheme
The Proposed Scheme would provide a fully grade-separated interchange to replace the existing signalised gyratory junction. Interchange links between Westlink, M2 and M3 would be provided in underpasses aligned beneath new bridge structures at York Street and under the existing Dargan and Lagan bridges. The existing North Queen Street and Dock Street overbridges and Whitla Street subway structure would be widened as necessary to accommodate the new road layout, with a new overbridge structure proposed at Dock Street. Retaining walls and piled embankments would be provided as required to support the new road alignments.
The new road links between Westlink, M2 and M3 would be subject to 40mph speed limits, with the existing 50mph speed limit on the M2 southbound carriageway extended north to the Duncrue Street off-slip.
The Proposed Scheme is illustrated in the animation below:
Westlink to M2
The Westlink to M2 movement would be grade-separated by passing under the new York Street overbridge (which requires the raising of this road), continuing with two lanes via an underpass structure towards M2. As the link approaches Dargan Bridge, it would rise to match levels on the existing M2 on-slip. To facilitate online widening of Westlink between North Queen Street Bridge and York Street overbridge, the associated Westlink embankment requires modification. To avoid works to replace the existing Little George’s Street retaining wall, a strengthened earthwork is proposed on the northern side of Westlink for a distance of approximately 100m, with a steepened side slope.
M2 to Westlink
The M2 to Westlink movement would be grade-separated by passing over Dock Street on a new overbridge structure before dropping below existing ground level in an underpass structure. It would pass beneath links between Dock Street and M3, Westlink and M3, Lagan Bridge, Dargan Bridge and the new York Street overbridge. Two lanes would be maintained in the direction of Westlink. A merge would be provided from the Docks area (via a revised junction arrangement at Duncrue Street) that would provide strategic access for the Port of Belfast.
Westlink to M3
The Westlink to M3 movement would commence as a single lane diverge from Westlink to M2 alignment that passes under York Street overbridge in an underpass structure. The link would pass under both Dargan and Lagan bridges, whilst rising to pass over the M2 to Westlink alignment. A lane gain from Dock Street converges with the link, with the two resulting lanes continuing onto the existing on-ramp structure towards M3.
M3 to Westlink
The M3 to Westlink movement would be grade-separated by passing under Dargan Bridge via a new single lane link, passing between the existing bridge piers at approximately existing ground level. West of the Dargan Bridge, the link drops below existing ground level in an underpass. On approach to York Street overbridge, the link would rise as it passes under the bridge and continues to rise to join the M2 to Westlink alignment.
York Street would be raised above existing ground level as part of the works to accommodate the proposed underpasses. Two traffic signal controlled junctions would be provided at the intersection between York Street and Great George's Street, and at the intersection of York Street and the diverge from Westlink to York Street. Existing provision for pedestrians and cyclists on York Street would be maintained as a minimum, with an expected improvement for non-motorised users at the junctions from the removal of a significant volume of traffic. Access arrangements from York Street to adjacent properties would be revised to suit its raised level.
It should be noted that the proposed changes to York Street would reintroduce two-way running of a form to provide a new bus/cycle lane in the southbound direction, from Galway House to the Inner Ring. This would be further complemented by the provision of cycle lanes in both northbound and southbound directions between the Inner Ring and Dock Street.
Two lanes would be provided in a new slip road from the raised York Street under the Dargan Bridge. In order to tie in with the existing M2 foreshore northbound carriageway, it is necessary to reduce the movement beyond the Dargan Bridge to a single lane that merges onto the motorway. The existing southbound connection on York Street to the M2 would be retained.
Connections to Local Street Network
Connections from the local street network to the new interchange links would be provided at Clifton Street, York Street, Dock Street and Duncrue Street in the form of on-slips. Connections from the strategic road network to the local street network would be provided in the form of off-slips from interchange links at Clifton Street, York Street and Nelson Street. The existing north-facing on and off-slip roads at Clifton Street would remain open within the proposed road layout.